Breaking Down the Semifinals in the College Football Playoff

Ever since the four seeded Ohio State Buckeyes took home college football’s top prize atop the field in last year’s college football playoff, analysts and fans alike have become fascinated as to what are the chances it happens again this year. According to this year’s calculations chances would say it is likely that number four seed brings home the trophy. The Sooners according to FiveThirtyEight’s model have a 66% chance to make the final and a 41% chance to win the title. The Sooner’s head into the playoff with an 11-1 record with their lone loss coming to a lowly 5-7 Texas. Oklahoma is known for their high powered offense headed by a two headed monster rushing combo of quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Samaje Perine. The duo have Oklahoma averaging a whopping 45.8 points per game. The win won’t come easy for the four seed from the Big 12. They face an undefeated ACC champion Clemson team averaging 35.8 points per game. The Tigers are led by Heisman candidate Deshaun Watson and have quality wins over 10-2 Florida State and 11-2 North Carolina. While it may not be the most fun to talk about, when it all comes down to it, these teams all have offensive playmakers in the playoff. However what separates the semifinalists from champions is the fight in the trenches. Oklahoma wins the O-line battle averaging a lineman of 311.8 pounds to Clemson’s 297. Clemson then wins the battle on the D-line at 292 to Oklahoma’s meager 268.5. When it comes down to it Clemson has a bigger D line and is ranked 33rd in the nation in time of possession, while Oklahoma is 44th. In the end Clemson’s D-line will force Oklahoma to hand the ball over enough that Clemson can tire out the weaker defensive line of Oklahoma. Clemson, while lacking talent in the run game will be able to establish it due to a tired Sooner defense.

Final Prediction: Clemson.

The college football playoff also features a Big Ten SEC matchup just like last year. The 12-1 Big Ten champion Michigan State Spartans take on the 12-1 SEC Champion Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama comes in with a 42% chance of winning a title. Michigan State comes in beating Ohio State, the team that ousted Alabama last year. The Spartans are led by star quarterback Connor Cook and a stout D-line headlined by Shilique Calhoun. Alabama is led on offense by Derrick Henry a power back, and a Heisman favorite this year. On defense the team is powered by star linebackers Reggie Ragland and Reuben Foster. Alabama’s lone loss came to Ole Miss and Michigan State’s came to Nebraska. Alabama is averaging 32.2 points per game while Michigan State is averaging 32.1. These teams are known for making their presence felt on the line. Michigan State comes in with one of the best O-lines in the nation weighing a whopping 311.8 pounds on average, the same as Clemson. However Alabama comes in with an even larger average, 313 pounds. As for the defense, both are highly touted, tested, and respected units. However there is a large difference in magnitude. Alabama weighs 315 even bigger than their offensive line while State has a thin unit at 280.75. This right here will be the difference in the game. While Michigan State is far superior in the passing game. The defensive line will take away the time Connor Cook needs to win the game. The Alabama D-Line will overpower Michigan State’s offensive line, while the O-Line will fend of Michigan State’s defense giving Derrick Henry all the room he needs to run.

Final prediction: Alabama.


By: Conor Ryan

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